Perrspectives - Bringing light to Darkness

Five Lessons Learned: The Donkey Gets Its Ass Kicked

November 3, 2004

While the Ohio saga may linger for some days, it's abundantly clear that the Democrats have suffered a devastating defeat. Bush has his mandate, the GOP owns Congress and the governorships, and the Supreme Court is only a matter of time.
Let the recriminations begin. Progressives will no doubt cite a host of factors, from Kerry's wooden personality, the unshakable flip-flopper label, the Swift Boat slanders, "voted for it before I voted against it", among others. But these are questions of tactics, not strategy. At the end of the day, Democrats must realize their party is adrift in terms of ideology, policy and branding, and that is the source of Tuesday's calamity.
Democrats need to learn five lessons from this debacle, and learn them fast:
1. Restore Credibility on National Security
John Kerry and the Democrats were never able to close the traditional gap they face on security, defense and terrorism issues. As we've argued before, the United States will need to expand its armed forces for perhaps the next decade to fight Al Qaeda globally, maintain the Iraq occupation and possibly face regional threats such as Iran and North Korea. Bush's 10 division army is not sufficient, and Kerry's proposed two new divisions likely won't be either. Rather than use the draft as a scare tactic, Democrats should embrace national service. As Perrspectives has detailed, Democrats should expand the all-volunteer army, while drafting a 250,000 person strong "Civil Defense Force" to guard broders, ports, airports, nuclear facilities and other homeland installations.
2. Compete for White Males
Democrats cannot return to the White House and reemerge as the majority party as long as they essentially write off white males. The 2004 exit polls show that Kerry was drubbed among white males (61%-38%) and beaten by Bush among white females (54%-45%). Note that Democrats have not carried a majority of the white vote since 1964 and having won over 50% of the popular vote since 1976. When national security is the preeminent issue, Democrats simply cannot count on enough of a gender gap to win national elections. Which brings us to:
3. Move Beyond Identity Politics
The Democrats unhealthy dependence on minority and young voters similarly is a recipe for defeat. While Kerry managed to maintain 90% of the African-American vote, Bush expanded his slice of the Hispanic pie to 42%. And once again, the 18-29 vote failed to make impact, constituting 17% of the electorate, a dismal statistic unchanged since 2000.
Some Democratic analysts see an "emerging Democratic majority" arising from the colaition of a socially liberal professional class combined with America's growing Hispanic and Asian populations. The numbers just don't bear this out. Democrats must begin offering Americans a better choice than the stale debate between the racism of the right and the racialism of the left. Democrats can neither support the status quo nor trigger a return to real or de facto segregation in hiring, contracting and university admissions. Ultimately, Democrats must move to a "Post Affirmative Action" politics, trading the easy work of group preferences for the hard work of investment in education and urban development, day care, class-based programs, and other more universal approaches. As we've suggested before. Democrats should le phase out affirmative action over time w hile implementing a new approach, "Open Opportunity."
4. Understand "Intensity vs Propensity" in the Culture Wars
The exit polls again make clear that the GOP has built an almost insurmountable lead among voters prioritizing "moral values." This Democratic deficit is not just a question of learning to speak about values; on many issues like abortion, the Democrats stand enjoys majority support nationally. The issue is one of intensity; for those conservative voters for whom "values" issue matter, they matter most. In 2000, this intensity helped make the South a Republican lake. In 2004, it was a major mobilizing force even in many swing states, and according to CNN exit polls, the #1 issue (22% of voters). More people may think we're right, but apparently they don't care as deeply about the stakes.
5. Branding: The Message is the Medium
Once again, the Republicans haave shown that they are the masters of a simple 1-2-3 formula for crafting winning campaigns. The GOP brand formula:
a) Articulate a clear, concise, consistent and coherent worldview. (For example, government bad, markets good, "you're either with us or with the terrorists).
b) Offer an positive, aspirational policy program in line with their worldview. The GOP policy prescriptions, from school vouchers and Social Security privatization to medical savings accounts and faith-based inititatives, are wrong and dangerous virtually across the board, but they show the GOP as a forward-looking party of ideas. (Kerry's inability to carry any income group making over $50,000 reflects this fact.)
c) Brand and message the program with simple, emotional potent sound bytes. Whether unopposable on their face ("school choice", ending the "death tax", banning "partial birth abortion") or blatant lies ("clear skies", "healthy forests"), their effectiveness cannot be doubted.
Democrats, unlike Republicans, seem not to have grasped that in an American culture with an over-supply of cable news, on demand movies, and the Internet, politics IS entertainment. With so many sources competing for the mindshare of American voters, Democrats must always remember that nothing entertains more than confrontation and conflict, and that he who speaks first, and simply, wins.

28 comments on “Five Lessons Learned: The Donkey Gets Its Ass Kicked”

  1. Hi John:
    Your post election breakdown is very apt. I've long maintained that the progressive ideology makes it very difficult to move in one direction as a group, while the Republicans don't have that problem. So I agree that beating Bush at his evangelical rhetoric is essential. I also know it's going to be an uphill battle.
    His administration has also adopted the harshest aspects of Hollywood media relations, something we haven't seen before. (Ask a question or discuss something we don't like, we'll deny access). This has really colored what people are hearing and is still in play, but seems to be eroding (thank God).

  2. Hi John, The darkness I have feared has come to be. Your "5 Lessons Learned" makes a lot of sense. In my opinion, this is a very sad day for America and the world. I look forward to reading your insights as the future unfold. Regards to you, D and Z, Nikki Moccia

  3. *warning: somewhat long, bloviating post
    Hi, John. I'm a straggler from Washington Monthly,.
    I like your third point -- "Open Opportunity." Race based things are a step forward, but they're politically very exclusive. Let's move to means testing for neighborhoods and for individuals and for families. That way no American can feel that those programs "don't apply."
    But I actually disagree with a lot of your points. The problem lies not entirely with the democrats, but American's lack of ability to think or see shades of grey.
    1. National Security. National security in the age of terrorism involves fighting terrorist with a combination of diplomatic, humanitarian, and military resouorces.
    Now -- how is a Democrat going to EVER look stronger on security unless he is enthusiastic about invading foreign countries? The adventurists will win every time on this one.
    2. "Simple, coherent world view." Again, any thinking party of progressive's is going to fail here, because they belong to the reality based community. We understand that a simple theory/idea does not fit in every situation. Sometimes the free market works, some times it doesn't. It's the job of thinking people to ascertain what works where.
    IN FACT, I think there's can make a strong argument that the Dem's have been getting their asses kicked for the last thirty years BECAUSE they had a coherent philosophy: BIG GOVERNMENT. If any thing is wrong, the GOVERNMENT can fix it. That's a simple, coherent view point. How are we going to explain to the American people that our view is, "Sometimes government is the answer, sometimes light regulation is the answer, sometimes government-sponsored research is the answer. It's a big world, and we want to make sure your tax dollars are used most efficiently for greatest results." Yeah, that's something to rally around "most efficiency for greatest results." Hillary tried the "village" community thing, and, again, got her ass handed to her.
    My creeping fear is that this country is locked into a mentality that can not see nuance. Bush is a strong leader, because he makes strong, simple to understand decisions. Whether they're good decisions, well, that's really quite tertiary.
    Sorry the post is so long. First thing I've written since the curtain came down on my hope for America and up on my fears.

  4. Bush is a strong leader, because he makes strong, simple to understand decisions. Whether they're good decisions, well, that's really quite tertiary.

    "The moon is made of Swiss cheese" is a "strong, simple to understand" decision.
    It is also nonsense and would be rebuffed as such.
    I don't know where all this talk about "nuance" came from but it has little to do with getting grits to eat on the table. (For what it is worth, the computer you are now operating runs on binary, "yes-no" logic; so if you think "shades of gray" are necessary for sophisticated thinking, you need to learn a lot.)
    Nobody, but nobody voted for anybody or anything for the sake of "nuance," and if nuance is what the Democratic Party stands for, then it can look forward to existing as a minor debating society.

  5. John, This is my first day at your blog.
    This stuff was lurking in the back of my mind for the past 6 months. It's crystal clear to me now. The Republicans have rejected the Center. The Democrats need to appeal to the Center. Like Clinton did. We MUST reject the fringe. They can flock to the Green party. Lets let them.
    57 million Americans could be wrong, but nobody's ever going to convince them of that by calling them redneck racist knuckle-dragging throwbacks.
    The Reality-Based community better start embracing reality, because yesterday, reality just bit them in the ass.

  6. Osama Been Forgotten is absolutely correctl.
    The perfect example is the post that follows his by StephanieMarie.
    The holier-than-thou attitude of the "Reality Based Community" will keep you in the minority.
    If you want to change a person's mind, don't belittle their beliefs and convictions, you will lose every time.
    The only way to effect the change you seek is gradually, you can't just ram it down someones throat.

  7. I don't know where all this talk about "nuance" came from but it has little to do with getting grits to eat on the table.
    "Nuance" was all about the left painting the right as stupid.
    This made it exceedingly easy for the right to paint the left as "elitist".
    Two anecdotes from the past 24 hours:
    An interview on NPR, a woman was talking about how terribly divided this country is, how when her kids went to play-dates, the republican mothers would not talk with the democrat mothers, v/v. Then the interviewer asked why she was still hugging her best friend (who was a reppublican, she, a democrat) - she said that they can handle it because THEY RESPECT EACHOTHER.
    This morning, I listened to Rush Limbaugh. (You MUST to understand what the enemy is thinking - though I confess, I had NO clue as to the enormity of the gay marriage issue in this country until this morning). Rush said the first thing I've ever heard him say that made sense. Along the lines of: "You know what is wrong with the Left of this country? They're hated, ABSOLUTELY HATED by middle-America. Because they wag their fingers at them and tell them that they're stupid, or misled, or misinformed. THey have GOT to find a way to convince middle America to see their issues their way, without being insulting or condescending."
    People - this is it. If the left (and the poor Center that they dragged along with them to defeat) can't get this through their thick heads, I'm afraid right-wing extremism is what America will be all about for the forseaable future. And I think it's going to take at least 8 years to start turning things around. The damage that will have been done by then makes a lot of the fringe-left issues moot. The environment, abortion, gay rights, etc. These things are GONE. Say goodbye now. Get real. It's over. The best we can hope is to rationally convince people on the Centrist issues like progressive taxation and regulation, and fiscal sanity. In the next four years, we'll be very lucky if we even have a Flat Income Tax. We can't sacrifice all of this for the gays, or the snowy plovers (who are doomed anyway). I have a lot of gay friends, and I know it would hurt them to hear me say this, but if we can't slow the economic side of the Right's agenda, this country is going to fade into economic irrelevance. It's already obvious that our big industry can't survive without massive handouts and corporate welfare. We need to reform this shit ASAP. We can't wait for the current generation of homophobes to die off so that we can get equal rights for gays and then put a stop to corporate malfeasance, fraud, and cronyism. This country is headed for economic collapse, and we've GOT to have our priorities.

  8. you're 100% correct, Osama.
    Every single damn thing you wrote.
    And yet I can hardly find another Democrat besides myself who will agree.

  9. Osama_Been_Forgotten,
    Let's been totally rational here. The last thing Rush Limbaugh is interested in is offering serious constructive advice to the left. He, along with Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz (and a number of other extreme right wing idiots) have done nothing but trash the left for years now.
    These clowns have made their livings and their fortunes by making horse-shit of anything and everything remotely resembling Democrats and/or liberals. And they have been very successful at convincing the voting majority (as of the 2000 census, 77% of the voting age population in this country was white), that bad things will happen if "liberals" have their way.
    Whether truthful or not their suggestive tactics have been very effective. Fortunately for the Democrats there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I don't believe that the way to re-gain REAL strength and power is through becoming more like the Republicans (which is what the author is essentially suggesting).
    It is very true that the Democrats cannot win by shirking the white vote. The Republicans have built their strength by locking in the very aggressively voting white conservatives. Here in my home state of Georgia, the first Republican governor in over 100 years was elected back in 2002. He had only changed party two years earlier. Since then he has gone around the state convincing many of his old constituents to join the GOP. Now Georgia, who previously had a Democratic lock on both Senate seats for decades, now has two Republican senators for the first time in its history. And the state will soon have Republican control over it's House and Senate for the first time ever. Insteading of staying loyal to the party, lots of old Democrats are jumping ship and giving in to the awesome might and political prowess of the GOP.
    I believe this is the Democrats' key to success in the future. 1. Find out why they lost the 2004 presidential election and work backwards. 2. Figure out what they need to do to convince more white voters to vote for their candidates. 3. Put together a "war-room" panel of pundits to study the conservative dominated AM talkwaves and put together strategies to take its listenership away.
    4. Recruit more dedicated religious leaders who can appeal to the spiritual convictions of the religious right. Fortunately for the Democrats, the religious right are so caught up into and intermingled with the dominance and power of the Republican party that they have lost touch with the true spiritual foundation of their faith. There's PLENTY room to snatch votes from people who vote with the religious right only because they've family has supported generations of conservative politicans.
    This is by no means a comprehensive list that I believe will solve the party's woes. It's only my observation and a starting point. The one thing that *I* personally don't want to see is a Democratic party that's so much like the Republican party that you need a microscope to see the difference. Then you have no real alternative choice come election time. I'd rather there be no Democratic party at all! Just my .02.

  10. Sorry for the double post guys but I forgot two very important points I failed to make earlier.
    1. One thing that I believe will help the Democrats tremendously is to get aggresively involved in the AM talk radio market, currently dominated by the right wing dictatorship. The strategy that I believe will be most effective is not going tit-for-tat with Rush Limbaugh or Neal Boortz. That'll be ineffective for sure. Instead the Democrats need to sell their ideas as "independent". Their talk show personalities need to focus solely on the wrongs of the political right and back it up with indisputable facts. There's PLENTY of material for exposure. They need NOT explicitly support any democratic candidate for any office - for the right will quickly brand any such doing as liberal and convince their narrow-minded listeners that their anti-American (anti-patriotic, pro-Taliban, whatever). So the Dems should get into talk radio, but market its most independent side, while exposing the hateful, fear-mongering tactics of the right. Their theme should consist of something along the lines of "If you listen to Rush or Hannity, at least LISTEN to us before you form your opinion." or "Don't take our word for it, go research the facts for yourself."
    With the right research, and very careful selection of on-air personalities, I think this can be VERY effective. Once the approach gains listenership and momentum (from people tired of the hateful, separist rhetoric of the right), then the Democrats can slowly align itself with the "independent talk radio" movement.
    2. The Dems also need NEW, YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE, AGGRESIVE leadership. In other words, the party needs a new face. I think Obama (D - IL) is a great start! This way the party can redefine itself (at least in the media) as a young, energetic progressive party (combined with the new "independent" talk media). I don't think the party stands a chance of re-gaining any real power in the near future unless young aggressive leadership is quickly recruited (or drafted, if necessary) and put into the field quickly.
    I'll be putting my thoughts on paper over the course of the next few weeks and months trying to think of ways to make the party a political powerhouse. I think that the Bush re-election will give us a lot to work with over the next two years as deficits grow and the situation in Iraq becomes worse and costs of the war skyrocket. As all the party-loyal anti-Kerry voters, who ONLY voted for Bush to preserve a Republican White House, become more and more negatively affected by Bush's focus on foreign policy there will be room for a newly redefined Democratic party to step in and take America back for real. Not just in the White House, but also in the House and Senate!

  11. Now will you agree Bush is legitimate?
    Guess not for most extreme dems.
    Rush was right that America is going to the Right after all.
    Actually, I believe this was more about morality
    issues. And the media and the left are blinded
    by the truth.
    -kdog

  12. I agree with the new young, progressive, aggresive leadership...........and we should start by relieving Terry McAuliff of his duties...... as we have seen in the last two elections this guy just doesn't have what it takes.

  13. I am with OBF (didn't think it
    right to call you Osama).
    OBF has done essentially what WF_Tyler
    prescribed. The exit polls show that
    democrats are getting destroyed because
    people are voting for Republicans because
    they stand for things like "values" and
    "tradition." See also Kristof's editorial
    in the NYtimes today (written before
    election results, but right on point).
    Middle America doesn't identify with the
    democrats anymore because they see it
    as a party standing for abortion and
    gay rights. The Republicans have
    shifted the focus of "middle america"
    from such trivial things as there
    own financial interests and health to
    "values" issues.
    The division is quite scary. It was
    not always so. Democrats have always had
    a strong presence in southern and midwestern states.
    Now it's about northeast and west versus
    "middle america." Democrats will not regain
    power until we are able to convince middle america that we stand for the same things
    they do.
    I, however, desperately hope that the effort
    will not take the 8 years OBF predicts. Far
    too much damage will be done by then.
    I was watching the polls yesterday at a local college, and was awed by the amount of enthusiasm and feeling. We NEED to channel
    this energy RIGHT NOW before it dies into
    planning our future!

  14. Some excellent viewpoints written here on which I fully concur. I do agree that gays and greens would have to take a backseat to reach the "center". Sad but true. As far as the DNC, I can't tell you how many times I was frustrated and dumbfounded at Kerry and the parties tactics on this campaign. It should have been no secret what they'd be facing with a Rove-run campaign. His blueprint should be rather transparent at this point, I'd imagine. Especially when it comes to attacking military records a la McCain. Yet time and time again they made bad calls or none at all. The "morals" issue I KNEW was a factor and yet it didn't seem to be addressed. For many people it's surreal because we see the hypocrisy in his cabinets true greedy, bloody "christianity". Being a christian/catholic myself, it's been frustrating.
    Other DEM sites are talking about Hillary and Diebold machines. Do they really think Hillary would have a chance against this demographic? A woman in the white house? No way. It's just so tragic how morals and rights have been twisted so grotesquely in the same manner in which the GOP twist their opponents words out of context. I call this regression. Say goodbye to our enviornment, economy.
    On another note, did any of you see how the British reacted? When Tony Blair congratulated Afghanistan on their elections, the house started laughing hysterically. I'm listening to the BBC right now and they seem very disappointed.

  15. Have worked so hard on this election; have lurked the blog when had the time! Now I have nothing but time. Thank you all for drying my tears and refueling my ire. Now IS no time to quit!

  16. I've been thinking about this all day. People are interviewing Democrats, and they are generally at a loss.
    I'm a Republican, but I also wish to see a Democratic party which isn't this marginalized. The right wing really has the ability to push its agenda now, much of which I agree with, some of which I don't. I feel the need to give advice here.
    The author of this blog is generally right. The problem is this. If you allow the people on the fringe to control your party, your party represents the fringe. That leads to marginalization, and a middle america vs. coastal culture war. Do you remember who lead your party in the 90's? Do you remember winning states like Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and West Virginia?
    It seems so simple to me. All you have to do is not let the special interests (NAACP, NARAL, ATLA, etc.) dominate your party's social agenda. Instead, get leadership that will align your party's social agenda with the mainstream, even if this goes a little to the right of your personal values. For example, don't be so oppositional to the partial birth abortion ban, which most Americans agree with. Concede that small point, get NARAL the hell out of the way, and other abortion rights, which most of America defend, would be the things in question. Then you have the upper hand.
    This would neutralize, to a certain extent, the GOP advantage on those social issues, leaving the issues in debate things that are more advantageous to Democrats, like the economy or Iraq, or various domestic programs.
    Bill Clinton was exemplary in this respect, which explains the victories in middle america. But you guys are moving away from that. Moveon.org and the Deaniacs have a place at the table, and that's killing you. Let them go, and move to the middle. And for crying out loud, nominate someone who plays well in the midwest, like Edwards. You don't need a Massachusetts guy in there. You've got that base covered.
    All right, I am a GOP guy, so that's all the advice you're getting from me.

  17. All right, I am a GOP guy, so that's all the advice you're getting from me.
    What would you say to this prognostication?: You will be voting for a non-Republican within four years. It won't matter if it's an aethiest lesbian abortionist, you will give her money, campaign for her, vote for her and pray that vote is counted. Because after four more years of Bushism, there will only be two camps: the cult of true believers and everyone else.
    While Democrats and leftists like myself are literally nauseated and feel endangered by this election, it is clear to me that the few remaining moderate Republicans know what this means as well: entrenched fundamentalism and extremist public policy. Who will stop it? There will be no counterbalance.
    On fiscal matters alone, who will reduce spending? No one. Who will call for taxes to pay for that spending? No one. Indeed, I trust more tax cuts favoring the rich are already on their way.
    But tax cuts won't be much of a rallying cry when the debt bomb finally explodes, to say nothing of Al Qaeda bombs made from fresh Iraqi RDX. Rational, trustworthy leadership will be more important than any other period except 1776, 1865, the Great Depression and WWII. Do you really believe in your heart and mind that George W. Bush is adequate to the job?
    This election was about theocracy versus secularism and rationality versus ideology; not "Republicans" versus "Democrats".
    The extremists in your party hold the true reins power, not so with the Democrats. Examples:
    1) When Dems win, PETA doesn't get to write beef-industry legislation; When the GOP wins, scientific research grants and education policy are administered by strong creationists.
    2) When Dems win, A.N.S.W.E.R. doesn't orchestrate our foreign policy or come anywhere near the State Dept; when the GOP wins, extreme unilateralism and "pre-emptive war" becomes the policy.
    3) When the Dems win, they don't make Nader attorney general to destroy corporations; when the GOP wins you get lobbyists carting off public assets for pennies on the dollar. Without public debate.
    I could go on, there are so many examples.
    And please, I can't even get started with the amazing quantity of secrecy and lies that have surrounded virtually everything this regime touches. Forget liberals and gay marriage: is this how you want your party (and now entire government) operating? Secret meetings about public policy. Lobbyists writing sweetheart legislation. The PATRIOT Act. Defeat of media scrutiny, press conferences and any other form of restraint. Is there no point at which you will say this is too much?
    My grandfather was a lifelong Republican, in no small part because he was a rational man. An aethiest in fact, unless you consider love of country a religion in which case he devout. He also believed in limited, transparent government. He would have no place in today's GOP. I think in your heart you know it's true (Barry Goldwater, RIP).
    I would be interested in reading your response to these ideas and will bookmark this page to check back later.

  18. Osama (and others) --
    You're right, of course. I'm not making a political argument, more of a personal one. The reason I think Bush supporters are idiots is because they are. They don't even know Bush's policies, and they still think Iraq was behind 9/11. And is there any objective measure of anything where the United States has improved in the last four years?
    One of the ugliest things about this election cycle was that I hoped, really, that reason would win out. But, as you've all pointed out, this is a game to played, with reason playing a part only in devising a strategy to influence the weak minded.
    Tim -- I agree with you, for the most part. A good strategy would be to paint the Republicans for the extremist party they are. But I also think Democrats can get a little carried away with themselves (calling Bush voters weak minded idiots, for instance).

  19. Short version:
    With a 3% loss, every little bit helps.
    But there's a structural shift going on here where some liberal core values (tolerance, acceptance, separation of church and state) are being resoundingly objected. I'm not sure of thinking can be healed by repackaging. It's arrogant for me to call them idiots, but it's also arrogant to presume that we just need to put our product in a prettier box for them to accept it. They believe what they believe, and it's not what I believe. I think I have evidence on my side, but they have God on theirs.
    Anyway, this cold really go on forever. I wish we all lived within a few blocks of the same bar so we could have a proper discussion. But for now, let me say that I think better PR would help, but there's something very wrong, deeply wrong. OBF thinks it's with the Democratic Party and how it's run and presented. I think the problem is with the theological drift of the Nation. We're both probably right, but OBF's theory is much more actionable. And mine is only solace for a minor debating party.

  20. H.L. Mencken coined the word "booboisie." Perhaps I will be credited for coining the word "bushwasie." I don't mean it to be as insulting as Mencken's, but the idea is that much of the Bush constituency is given to thoughtless, uncritical opinions. We all suffer the consequences of the decision, of course, and probably most of all, those very members of the bushwasie will suffer the most. It will take an incredible amount of imagination and work on the part of the Democrats to reach and edify enough of the benighted bushwasie to change the direction of this country.

  21. Look, about partial birth abortion. It's hard to say that aborting a baby that could survive without it's mother otherwise is not murder, even if you're for keeping abortion legal in general, which I am, by the way. That was definately a big problem with middle-of-the -road voters where I live. The other problem, which was less discussed, but bigger, was that John Kerry never went on tv and said to the voters "Let's do this and this and this, specifically". His whole campaign was basically "George sucks and I can do better." Everybody's asking "Yeah, HOW?" and he never answered it in a public enough forum or in any specific manner. We're a great party and can do amazing things if given the chance, but we are going to have to present that to the American public in a clear way. An issue that neither party discussed is the "What about the dumb people?" issue.. OK, low IQ people. If we send their jobs overseas and keep raising the educational bar, these folks are in real trouble. They'll never pass high school and the factory isn't hiring any more Americans because it's in China now. Saying you're going to bring back american jobs is not the same as saying you're going to deal with this issue. The unfunded no child left behind stuff came the closest and we didn't have a handle on it at all. Nobody wants to say that these jobs are important because not everybody's capable of making a living at the bank in the IT department, but that's the biggest reason why they are important.

  22. How about stop calling people who work for a living "corrupt corporate fat cats."
    It's amazing at the economic beliefs I find among democrats.
    Embrace free enterprise. Don't think you can strip out profits.
    Don't be economic girley men.

  23. "How about stop calling people who work for a living "corrupt corporate fat cats."
    It would probably surprise you to learn that liberals work for a living and come from working families. Do you believe the GOP is actually pro-entrepreneur and pro-working family? How have they protected supported or promoted your interests in particular? God gave you a brain, friend, use it.
    The "fat cat" criticism is for Ken Lay and similar white-collar criminals. As you would know if you were seeing things with your own eyes, rather than listening to media figures who are feeding you propaganda.
    Are you wealthy enough to be able to hire accountants and tuck away your assets out of reach from the IRS? I doubt it. But you will be one day, right? If only the liberals would stop standing in your way, I suppose. Your millions are just around the corner...
    Meanwhile its working people (perhaps like you) who will be paying off the debts run up by giving tax cuts. You've already let the GOP whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Before long it will be time for you to bend over, GOP girley-men, your tax bill for Republican spending is on its way. And afterwards, you may finally realize who has been lying to you, and who was really on your side.

  24. Seems t' me we have a major disagreement as to what strategy will result in Dems winning more elections:
    On one hand are the folks railing about how Bush's re-election was due to abysmally stupid voters--clearly homophobic and deluded by GOP propaganda. Other folks are mulling the possibility of changing the direction of the party--at least superficially--in order to appeal to at least a few of those who voted for Bush. Clearly, such a strategy rankles most 'progressives.'
    Here are three suggestions; Dems could almost certainly swing enough current Bush voters by doing just 3 things differently--without giving any ideological ground:
    1. Openly, cheerfully acknowledge that most of the people who voted for Bush are *not* stupid--they simply have a different (but nevertheless sincerely held) priority of values than you.
    2. Lay off the hate and vitriol.
    3. Stop being so contemptuous about Christianity and a belief in God; that contempt is *guaranteed* to make a determined foe of all those who do believe.
    --sf

  25. On the corporate fat cats issue, this is it. According to what I've read, the top 5%of the income earners in the country control 95%of the money. This isn't because of Bush. It was that way when Washington was the president and has continued to this day with some minor fluctuations. The point is that these folks only pay about 50 percent of the nation's income taxes. That means that the rest of us are subsidizing them. There's a catch phrase for you. Why aren't we showing some little waif on tv and saying "Her mom can't afford health insurance and her job doesn't provide it. Her mom's boss made 800,000 dollars last year and we're subsidizing him with our tax dollars. She pays 20% of her income in tases. He pays 10%. Is that moral? Is that what a moral country does?". If a mom in this scene gets a tax break, she will spend the money. She'll have to. She's doing without necessities now. So's the little girl. So's the little girl's father, who works hard at his new retail job that he's maybe not really very good at, but he was a great factory worker. He wanted to be there to see her grow up, but he will be away most of the time when he takes that new job as an over the road driver, bringing things made in China to the Midwest. How damn family friendly is that? That's the new reality. For working moms and dads who once worked at small local businesses, well you can kiss those jobs goodbye. The big- business-friendly TIF districts have put those people out of business. And, the business that have replaced tham are taking jobs out of the country in droves.

  26. On the corporate fat cats issue, this is it. According to what I've read, the top 5%of the income earners in the country control 95%of the money. This isn't because of Bush. It was that way when Washington was the president and has continued to this day with some minor fluctuations. The point is that these folks only pay about 50 percent of the nation's income taxes. That means that the rest of us are subsidizing them. There's a catch phrase for you. Why aren't we showing some little waif on tv and saying "Her mom can't afford health insurance and her job doesn't provide it. Her mom's boss made 800,000 dollars last year and we're subsidizing him with our tax dollars. She pays 20% of her income in tases. He pays 10%. Is that moral? Is that what a moral country does?". If a mom in this scene gets a tax break, she will spend the money. She'll have to. She's doing without necessities now. So's the little girl. So's the little girl's father, who works hard at his new retail job that he's maybe not really very good at, but he was a great factory worker. He wanted to be there to see her grow up, but he will be away most of the time when he takes that new job as an over the road driver, bringing things made in China to the Midwest. How damn family friendly is that? That's the new reality. For working moms and dads who once worked at small local businesses, well you can kiss those jobs goodbye. The big- business-friendly TIF districts have put those people out of business. And, the business that have replaced tham are taking jobs out of the country in droves.

  27. I honestly don't know how to restore the Democrat's credibility on national security, and I'm wary of anyone who thinks they have answers. Your policy ideas are interesting, but I don't see how more policy makes a difference. We had plenty of clear and well-thought-out policy alternatives on national security (port security, chemical plants, nuclear non-proliferation, increasing the size of the Army and Special Forces, terrorist financing, ...) this time around. Didn't seem to make much difference.
    And there are plenty of non-security issues where our alternatives would do more to protect national security. How about the deficit? Security often costs money, which has to come from somewhere. And what does the current adminstration plan to do if China decides it wants to use its stack of Treasury Bills as an economic weapon to secure Taiwan? How about diplomacy? Is an administration that couldn't even get the cooperation of Canada and Mexico (in the U.N. last year before we called off "cards on the table") one that can be trusted when diplomacy is what is required to resolve a security problem (as, say, it might be with North Korea or Iran)?
    On this issue, like so many others, it seems the voters prefer style (in this case rhetorical toughness) over substance. Maybe emulating that is the only solution. And, yet, I live in a very Blue city in a very Blue state (one of the top cities at risk for a terrorist attack if insurance companies are to be believed). Do I really want *two* political parties that do not take my security seriously?

  28. I'll add that I do not think that "Intensity vs. Propensity" cuts in the way you think. Remember, John Kerry and John Edwards went around the country repeating "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman" like a mantra. And, yet, people *still* think they lost the election over gay marriage.
    My reaction is that as long as we are the party that is more tolerant of gays (and if you've ever read the Texas Republican Party platform on the subject you'll know that it would take a monumental and, in my opinion, profoundly immoral shift to change that), Karl Rove and his heirs will always be able to portray Democrats as the party in favor of gay marriage, gay adoption, or whatever the next hot-button issue is. After all, our greater toleration is a kernel of truth underneath all of the lies and exaggerations.
    And if that's the case, what do we have to lose by embracing it? Put another way, suppose Kerry had come out for marriage equality. Do you think any voter who would have decided to vote for Bush because of that voted for Kerry in any event? Wasn't there some untapped intensity on the marriage equality side? Aren't civil unions a comprimise that neither satisfied nor excited anyone on either side?
    It sounds like crazy political strategy, but it seems to me that Republicans have been making favorable terrain out of unpopular issues for a long time now. Maybe it is time to learn how we can do the same.


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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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